Amateur Holiday Cook-Off

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  Baked-Potato Gnocchi With Wild Mushroom ragout and Carrot Purée in a Carrot Broth

The Chef
Nancy Verdolini

Serves 6

1 pound organic russet potatoes
1 large egg yolk
1/2 to 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon French sea salt
Kosher salt for boiling water
1 teaspoon butter

Carrot Purée and Broth
5 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoon butter
11/2 tablespoons crème fraîche
French sea salt
1 cup fresh carrot juice

Wild Mushroom Ragout
1/2 pound wild mushrooms, preferably chanterelles
1 tablespoon butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup homemade chicken stock
1 jalapeño pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
French sea salt and cracked Tellicherry pepper
Garnish: watercress leaves

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bake potatoes 1 hour, or until tender. Let potatoes cool, then cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin. Press flesh through a ricer or food mill into a large bowl. Mix in egg yolk and salt, and gradually knead in flour until it forms a dough that is not too sticky. Divide dough into four pieces, and roll into 1/2-inch-diameter logs. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Using your thumb, roll each piece across the floured tines of a fork to make ridges on one side and an indentation on the other. (The gnocchi can be placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerated until ready to cook.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, return to a boil, and cook gnocchi a few at a time, until they float to the surface, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon, and coat with butter.

Carrot Purée and Broth
Place the carrots in a 1-quart saucepan with 2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are quite tender. Strain, reserving cooking liquid, and pass carrots through a food mill or ricer. Add 1 tablespoon butter and crème fraîche, season with salt, and stir until combined.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, reduce carrot juice and 1/2 cup reserved carrot cooking liquid to 1 1/4 cups, removing any scum from the surface. Whisk in 1 tablespoon butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wild Mushroom Ragout
Cut mushrooms into halves, or thirds if they’re large. Heat butter in a sauté pan, and cook shallots until translucent. Add mushrooms, thyme, and a pinch of salt, and sauté until soft. Add stock and jalapeño, and cook over medium heat until stock has reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add balsamic vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook 1 more minute.

Assembly: Place a heaping tablespoon of carrot purée just off-center in the bottoms of six bowls. Mound 1 heaping tablespoon of mushrooms alongside the purée. Arrange 8 to 10 gnocchi in each bowl, and ladle in broth. Garnish with watercress.